International Women's Day

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by Cassandra R. Elias

In the Spotlight: International Women's Day

Celebrate International Women's Day!International Women's Day is celebrated every year on March 8th. This day is all about ordinary women as creators of history. 2012's theme is empowering rural women and to end hunger and poverty.

This event is commemorated at the United Nations and is designated in many countries as a national holiday. It's a day spent remembering 90 years of the struggles for justice, liberty, equality, peace, and development.

The idea for this tradition came about at the turn of the 20th century. The industrial world and population were booming. So was the birth of radical ideologies and ideas.

This poster to the left is from Russia, circa 1932. Translated, it says, "The 8th of March: A day of rebellion by working women against kitchen slavery."

Significant Events in History

1909: The Socialist Party of America declared the first National Woman's Day be observed across the United States on 28 February. The event continued to be celebrated on the last Sunday of February through 1913.

1910: In Copenhagen, The Socialist International, created a Women's Day to honor the movement for women's rights and assist in fighting for universal suffrage for women.

1911: As a result of the decision taken at Copenhagen the previous year, International Women's Day was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. Women demanded the right to vote and to hold public office, right to vocational training, and an end to job discrimination.

Tragically, less than a week later on March 25, 1911, the infamous Triangle Fire in New York City killed more than 140 working women. It was this event that had a major impact on the United States' current labor laws and working conditions.

1913-1914: Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In other countries, on or around March 8, 1915, women held rallies to protest WW1 or to show solidarity with their sisters.

1917: Russian women chose the last Sunday in February to strike for "bread and peace." Four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.

International Women's Day, Today

Since those historic events, this occasion has taken on a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries. It's become a rallying point for multi-coordinated efforts to demand women's rights and ability to participate in the political and economic process.

The United Nations supporting this cause has helped create an historic legacy of international strategies, programs, and goals to empower women worldwide.

Take the time to reflect on the progress and celebrate the multitudes of courageous acts and determination of ordinary women.

How will you celebrate International Women's Day?

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